Sometimes our parents were right. Sometimes they still are.

On Nov. 29, 1947, in a stunning moment of moral clarity, the world felt so bad about the Holocaust that the State of Israel was voted into existence by a world burdened by the guilt of being a bystander to an unprecedented genocide.

To be clear, we both deserved it and were entitled to it—our ancestors trod the length and breadth of the land more than 4,000 years ago, our existence in the land spawned three faith traditions, and the land is inextricably tied to our heritage and our very existence.

And also, to be clear, it took expulsion, persecution, and 6 million murdered Jews to get there—an inconvenient truth, to say the least. 

My mother, z’l, never forgot this. She was born, alongside Israel, in 1948, out of the ashes of the Holocaust, and she never forgot that the world shrugged its shoulders as Europe’s Jews were exterminated. She lived her life as a dogged Zionist and fervent tracker of antisemitism, and was convinced that the world had it out for the Jews. For her children there was never a filter—I got all of this from her from birth, as far back as I can remember. And I resented this paranoid upbringing, the constant warnings of persecution, and the heavy-handed drumbeat of Holocaust education. Why should I be worried? Weren’t Jews accepted now?

In retrospect, this was as laughable as it was when “Saturday Night Live” told us “Racism is over” back in 2013. (I know we are all still traumatized by recent events, but it’s good to laugh at this one.)

The aspirational mythologies we told ourselves about being welcomed as equals in a great and enlightened world of freedom and universal values have been shattered. The events and aftermath of Oct. 7 have destroyed a litany of truths that many Jews held in their hearts; we may have thought we were fully-vested First Worlders, but we were never really at home. It’s pretty clear right now that we were just First-World-adjacent—an uninvited guest to the party of progress, cosplaying as just-like-everyone-else while casually ignoring all of the gentle warnings that have now manifested into full-on blood libels and hatred.

Despite our best intentions, our allyship alongside any number of marginalized groups has been stunningly not reciprocated in the face of slaughtered infants. Our full-throated endorsement of progressive causes only resulted in criticism and vilification of Israel before any retaliatory action was even taken. Our posts of Israel flags and the stories innocent victims have been parried away with images, posters, and Ivy League professors lionizing the terrorists who raped teenaged girls and burned entire families alive in their homes. When college students are being terrorized for daring to BE JEWISH and express their pride in doing so, we are so far beyond the Rubicon that it’s genuinely petrifying. 

Not to be outdone by the left, the usual suspects on the far right are predictably dancing on the fresh graves of murdered Jews while others are claiming the whole thing was a false flag attack by the Mossad. The unholy union of intersectionality, the far left, white supremacists, Hamas, and QAnon on an axis of Jewish hate I did not have on my antisemitic bingo board, but 2023, or Jewish history in general, is the gift that just keeps on giving.

If I’m being rational and pessimistic, I can wrap my head around the lunacy of the fringe groups on the right—they are just the latest iteration of fascists, Nazis, and conspiracy theorists who have been blaming Jews for everything since, well, the Second Temple.

It boggles my mind, however, that 1,300 people were killed and 200 more taken as hostages and people could not bear to utter an empathetic syllable before pivoting to justifying the terrorism or both-sidesing the situation; to say that is a total abdication of reality would be an understatement.

Make no mistake: If your moral imperatives require you to affirm your anti-Israel credentials before you condemn absolute evil (if you even bother to pretend like it troubles you), you have no standing. None.

And speaking of standing, it’s become apparent to my generation, as it has for every prior one, that no matter where the Jewish people stand, we end up standing alone. 

I guess my mother was right in the end.

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